By ThingsKenya Writer
Tourism and conservation activities at Kenya’s South Coast have been boosted by the launch of the Sh80 million Shimoni tourist jetty and patrol boat at Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park in Kwale County.
The event was presided over by Mr Harun Khator, the Director of Administration in the State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy who said the projects would assist fisheries and blue economy in Kwale.
He said the government was committed to putting in place appropriate policy and legal frameworks to support the fisheries and blue economy sector. He noted that the new Fisheries Management and Development Act 2016 had provided for the establishment of new institutions, including the Kenya Fisheries Service, Kenya Fish Levy Trust Fund, Kenya Fisheries Advisory Council and Fisheries Marketing Authority.
The event was franked by representatives from Kenya Wildlife Service, Marine Police, Kenya Defence Forces, Kwale and Lamu County Conservation and Compensation Committee chairmen, boat operators, tour operators and the local community.
The commissioned projects were funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Kenya Coastal Development Project bringing together seven government agencies, including Kenya Wildlife Service.
KCDP has been fully aligned with the government’s Vision 2030 development blueprint through support for tourism development, management of natural resources and for poverty elimination. The jetty is expected to ease congestion of users at the Shimoni fisheries jetty and to minimize any negative incidences experienced by tourists as they access the marine protected area. The jetty together with the rehabilitated Sheldrick Falls tourist site at Shimba Hills National Reserve are expected to rejuvenate tourism, one of the key sectors through which KWS contributes to the national economy.
KCDP has also funded a number of other activities in the areas of institutional capacity building, protected area management effectiveness improvement, and in reduction of human-wildlife conflict. These include:
Renovation of Mombasa and Shimoni stations, purchase of one patrol boat, training of 46 staff on diving and 52 on strategic adaptive management has enhanced the institution’s capacity to manage protected areas effectively.
Purchase and installation of mooring buoys at Kisite-Mpunguti, Mombasa, Watamu, Malindi and at Kiunga Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This provides a critical dimension in assisting in enforcement of management rules and regulations through efficient demarcation of MPA boundaries and different use zones.
Information obtained from biodiversity assessments for Shimba Hills National Reserve, Kisite-Mpunguti, Malindi and Watamu MPAs, and from an aerial wildlife census for Lamu area is useful in informing management decisions towards conservation of wildlife and their habitats in respective areas. Moreover, an installation of an Integrated Coastal Biodiversity Information Management System at Mombasa station will facilitate information sharing among stakeholders.
The project has seen various documents developed including, Sable antelope, and Coral reef and Sea grass conservation strategies, management plans for Witu Forest Ecosystem, Kisite-Mpunguti, Watamu and Malindi MPAs. These documents will guide in conservation and management of species and critical habitats of conservation concern.
The erection of 6-km electric fence at Lukore area along Shimba Hills National Reserve will help mitigate Human-Wildlife Conflict in the area, and improved awareness and community participation in natural resource management, primarily through training of community members on tour guiding and biodiversity assessment procedures ensure sustainability in environmental management.
Through KCDP, KWS has constructed a community welfare structure, adjacent to the floating jetty and this will provide space for community members to sell local artifacts to tourists or any other natural resource-based small-scale business.